Smile Dessert, Somerville, Auckland

Smile Dessert is a dessert restaurant chain from China which has recently arrived in Auckland. The Somerville branch opened in December 2015, and we were informed by the manager that the Dominion Road branch is expected to open soon.


There has been a flurry of Asian dessert restaurants opening in Auckland in the last year, from global chains to homegrown cafes. There is Meet Fresh (Taiwanese), Mellow (local), Snowman Café (Korean), Fresh (Korean), Fukurou Patisserie (Malaysian). It’s wonderful to see Asian flavours creating a foothold in what must be the last bastion of Western cuisine, desserts. Asian flavours typically mean a lot of green tea and red bean flavours, but Smile Dessert the most recent newcomer to these shores is showcasing mango and the most Asian of flavours…durian. Continue reading

Fukurou Patisserie, Newmarket, Auckland

Fukurou Patisserie specializes in mille crêpes (or crêpe cakes). These cakes are built with layers of paper-thin crêpes and flavoured cream fillings. Though not quite a thousand layers as their French name implies, they are still impressive at 18 – 20 layers. Mille crêpes have taken Asia by storm, and these delicate desserts with their caramelized tops have finally arrived in New Zealand.


The store is tucked away in the courtyard of the Newmarket train station. As an aside, Fukurou means ‘protection from hardship’ in Japanese. Due to its similarity to fukuro or owl, this bird has become a very popular lucky charm in Japan and is the mascot of Fukurou Patisserie. Continue reading

The Tannery, New Lynn, Auckland


The Tannery is a joint venture between Mt Atkinson Coffee and Kohu Road Ice-cream. It may sound like an odd pairing, but it actually works remarkably well. Besides, who doesn’t love ice-cream, and I know plenty of coffee-addicted people. The Tannery absolutely lives up to Mt Atkinson’s tagline: Refined Westie. The building’s previous life was a tannery but it’s all grown up. The space uses the exposed timber framing to full industrial chic effect and panelling to recreate the Mt Atkinson peaks. Continue reading

A day trip to Melaka, Malaysia

Melaka (or Malacca) is a UNESCO heritage site situated an easy 2-hour drive south of Kuala Lumpur on the North-South Expressway. Since its founding in the 14th century by a Sumatran prince, Melaka became a very important port for centuries by the colonising Portuguese, Dutch and then the British. Port of Malacca and its sheltered bay provided a welcomed stopping point for the trade route between China and India. All these cultures, plus the arrival of the Chinese from British colonies created an intruiging melting pot in Melaka. One of these is the unique Peranakan (Straits Chinese) culture.

PicMonkey Collage4

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Mango lassi

I love mangoes; I grew up with 5 mango trees in our Kuching backyard. The fragrance of the ripening fruit would filled the air, and we had to battle the flying squirrels for the ripe fruit. The crafty critters often got their share, and we had lots of fruit with squirrel-sized bites taken out of them. But no matter, there were always bucketfuls to go around.

However, the mangoes we get in NZ are so odourless, and taste bland. The R2E2 ones from Australia are halfway decent, but at $5.99 each, they are an uncommon treat, and never get used for cooking.

Mangoes by the carton in Brisbane, Kensington Pride (my favourite) and R2E2

That’s why I always look forward to mango lassi at Indian restaurants. They are full of flavour, and a good respite from the heat of the curries. At the Sandringham Food & Spice tour recently, host Lisa Loveday revealed just how easy it is to recreate this drink at home.

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(Almost) Fool-proof salted caramel sauce

If you’ve jumped onto the salted caramel craze and devoured all manner of salted caramel goodies, – chocolates (Bohemien), ice-cream (try Kohu Road), crepes (caramel sale crepe at La Forchette) and macaron (J’aime les macaron), you know just how addictive the flavour is.

Here’s an easy recipe on how to make your own salted caramel sauce to pour over desserts (like the homemade pavlova below), ice-creams and use in baking. This also makes an excellent gift. After burning way too many batches, I finally found a way to make fool-proof salted caramel sauce. This method takes a bit longer, but it works! Continue reading

Milse, Britomart, Auckland

I challenge you to not immediately get a sense of amazement and joy when you walk though the beautifully crafted space at Milse. The ‘parametric dessert den’ as dubbed by their architects (Cheshire Architects) is encased in spectacular inter-connecting laser-cut filigree panels.

Milse is tucked away in an alley off Tyler St, and is open 7 days from 10am until late (last seating is at midnight) serving all manner of gelato, gateaux, tarts and macarons. The changing menu of a la carte plated desserts is only served from 6pm onwards. There is only seating for 15 people, so if you want to sample the menu, here are some tips on how to get a table.

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The Caker’s Nutella Banana Cake

I’m still in my journey of making cakes from Jordan Rondel’s The Caker. In my defense, the recipes are so nostalgic and simple; I often already have all the ingredients handy.

Banana and chocolate are a match made in heaven, so it is surprising that I haven’t seen recipes combining these two key ingredients more often. Chocolate brings a richness and sophistication to banana’s starchy flavour.

I have not followed the recipe exactly though. The Caker’s recipes typically ask for the oven to be set at fan bake, but I bake all my cakes on normal bake setting. This recipe uses Nutella as a pre-made frosting, a marvelous hack. I used roasted hazelnuts crumbs for decoration, but you could use The Caker’s suggestion of banana slices and praline. Continue reading

The Caker’s Caramel Cake with Sea Salt

I am currently a huge fan of Jordan Rondel’s recipe book, The Caker. After the success with the upside-down pineapple cake the previous week, I was back drooling over the rustic looking cakes. I am never going to be a piping bag-wielding cake decorator, so her simple but quirky cake recipes fits my baking ethos perfectly.

Her version of a caramel cake is actually a citrus bundt cake with a quick caramel sauce. I’ve taken several liberties with her recipe. I downsized her recipe (which is for a ginormous cake) to one which feeds 10 people as an after dinner dessert. I got rid of my bundt tins years ago when I realized how little use they got, how much precious cupboard space they took up (in my tiny Auckland kitchen) and the size of cakes you had to make. And oh, I replaced orange with mandarin zest, just because I do so love mandarins.

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